How to Apologize to Your Child
Whenever I have a hard day with my babes, I find myself looking back at the day and wondering where I could have changed the way I interacted with my kids. Could I have said something different, treated them differently, or done something that could have turned everyone's days around for the better?
More than anything, whenever I've had a hard day with my kids, it usually means that I've been yelling... a lot. And this leaves me wondering how do I apologize to my kids?
Yelling at my kids never feels good. Getting angry, or frustrated, or upset with them never feels good. And I definitely don't like making my kids sad.
Why is it the worst feeling, and why is it that sometimes I feel like it's all I do? And then all I want to do is say sorry.
So if you're feeling anything like me at the end of a hard day with your kids and are looking for some answers, hopefully this post will help you out by giving you a little guideline for how to apologize to your children.
This is the part where you say sorry, and you let your little know that you feel badly about the way things went down. If your kids are still little like mine, you'll need to think about the best way to phrase this in a way that they will understand without taking way too much time (because, toddlers). This is where I will let my babe know how badly I feel. I always think it's important to get down to her level, so whether that's sitting together on her bed or on the couch, or to sit together on the floor together, you're able to look at each other in the eye and talk face-to-face.
Connect Your Reaction with Your Feelings
Probably the hardest part for me when it comes to the apology, because it is so dang hard to explain to a small child the reason why you did something. Even if it makes complete sense to you, an adult, it will probably make very little sense to your little. This is going to take some creative phrasing to get your point across. But the way that I find easiest to explain to a little kid about why you lost your cool is to connect the way you were feeling and why that lead to your reaction. Something like, "Mommy was feeling frustrated because you weren't listening, and that's why I yelled at you." A simple A+B=C formula works best. Keeping it short and sweet works best with littles.
Acknowledge Their Feelings
This is something that I didn't know would be an issue until I had a very emotional and articulate 4-year-old who could tell me very clearly exactly how things make him feel. So when I send him to time out, yell at him, or punish him, I then apologize to him, and let him know that I recognize how it probably made him feel too. This is also a good teaching moment for my littles, because whenever they need to apologize to someone, I want them to acknowledge the other person's feelings.
Make a Plan Together
This is a lot easier said than done, but I think it's important to talk with your little about how we can work together for next time to make sure that we don't end up in this situation again. Again, it does not always work. In fact, I'm almost certain that we will end up in this situation again, but that doesn't make it any less important to do. Let's make a plan so that when it does happen again we can say, "Remember, we talked about listening more when Mommy asks you to do something," so that the repetition and consistency will hopefully stick soon.